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Thursday, 14 April 2016

Monte Carlo Tennis Picks 2016 (April 14th)

Wednesday has to be described as a really frustrating day for the tennis picks with some poor ones coupled in with a little bit of bad luck and I have been a little disappointed by that.

It has meant the week has descended into a negative position over the last couple of days, but there is still time to turn things around with the Third Round of the Monte Carlo Masters all scheduled to be played on Thursday.


I can't go on without mentioning the big surprise of the tournament as Novak Djokovic was beaten in his first match back on the clay courts. It isn't a result that should overly worry Djokovic fans as he looks to add the French Open to his Grand Slam trophy cabinet, but it is a defeat that might have encouraged many of his rivals as Djokovic had been dominating recent Masters events.

It has opened the door for the rest of the field to put up some big Ranking points by winning this event in the absence of Novak Djokovic and build some momentum for the rest of the clay court season. There are some big events coming up in the next few weeks and so winning a Masters event is the kind of performance that could see someone get into a confident state to have a real assault at winning the French Open.

The absence of Djokovic has opened up the top half of the draw and I am looking forward to which of those players can take advantage of their draw the best.


Andy Murray - 4.5 games v Benoit Paire: The arrival of his first child and an absence from the Tour was always going to be tough for Andy Murray to deal with. I still think there will be surprised faces that he has yet to really have an impact on his return having been beaten early in both Indian Wells and Miami and so this tournament in Monte Carlo is an important one for the World Number 2.

Everyone reacts differently to becoming a parent for the first time and I think Murray is yet to find his groove back on the court. He came through a Second Round match against Pierre-Hugues Herbert in three sets which might set Murray up for a strong week, but he needs to be a little more solid behind serve and keep the focus on his tennis.

The match up with Benoit Paire should be one that Murray can enjoy with his ability to get plenty of balls back in play likely to frustrate the Frenchman. I still can't quite believe Paire is close to breaking into the top 20 in the World Rankings as he has a lot of early exits in the 2016 season, although his confidence could be in a good place having won two matches in Monte Carlo already.

Paire has a decent serve when he is playing his best tennis, but he goes through too many patches of playing some poor stuff and I think that will make a difference in this one. I expect Murray will have some difficult moments protecting serve, but ultimately I think he will be able to break down the Paire game in a 75, 63 win.


Milos Raonic - 4.5 games v Damir Dzumhur: Beating Pablo Cuevas was not an easy task for Milos Raonic, but he has come through that difficult test and I expect better from the Canadian when he faces Damir Dzumhur in the Third Round. The latter surprised me with his win over Tomas Berdych in the Second Round, but a lot of that was down to a really poor performance from the Czech player.

There will be some confidence that Dzumhur can upset Raonic too if the latter is not serving as effectively as he can. He didn't serve well against Cuevas and could easily have been beaten, but Raonic might hold the mental edge having crushed Dzumhur for the loss of just three games in Miami last month.

That result might not bother Dzumhur having already won four matches in Monte Carlo and beating Tomas Berdych in the impressive way he did on Wednesday. His movement can see him extract errors, but the key will be if he can get enough balls back from the Raonic serve like he was doing when facing Berdych in the Second Round.

It is important for Dzumhur as his own serve will give Raonic some chances to break serve and I think that will be the reason he is unable to back up his upset win on Wednesday. I can't imagine Raonic making as many sloppy mistakes behind his serve as he did in his own match and I expect he can come through with a 63, 64 win.


Dominic Thiem + 3.5 games v Rafael Nadal: A win over Aljaz Bedene helped Rafael Nadal into the Third Round, but the big story out of that victory for me was Bedene's assertion that Nadal's forehand has become his weaker wing. There is little doubt that he is not getting the penetration through the court that the Spaniard used to get from that wing, but beating Nadal on a clay court is still a big challenge for most players.

He did crush Dominic Thiem when they met at the French Open in 2014, but the more recent meeting came during the Golden Swing in South America earlier this season. On that occasion it was the young Austrian who got the better of Nadal thanks to a third set tie-breaker and Thiem is certainly someone who could be a threat during the next six weeks heading into the French Open.

There is plenty of strong movement that Thiem brings to the court, but he also is able to find plenty of penetration through the clay courts which makes him very dangerous. He has a decent return game which should give Thiem a chance to take at least a set in this one and I expect this is going to be a very close match that could go either way.

I think Thiem is more than capable of beating Nadal and will have that same belief having done it on a clay court already in 2016. The Nadal serve is far from unbreakable and I think Thiem can enjoy enough success to make these games count when the final score is produced.


Stan Wawrinka - 2.5 games v Gilles Simon: Last season at the French Open, Stan Wawrinka crushed Gilles Simon on his way to winning the title at Roland Garros. I would be very surprised if Wawrinka was to dominate this match in the same manner, but I do think the Swiss player is the more likely winner of this Third Round match.

You might think the slower courts would favour someone like Simon who has decent movement and can get plenty of balls back in play, but the slower courts mean his counter punching doesn't have the same penetration as on the hard courts. That can prove a problem when Simon's own shots will give his opponent time to earn clean hits from them and someone like Wawrinka can take advantage of that.

Wawrinka just needs to protect his serve better than he did in the win over Philipp Kohlschreiber when a couple of sloppy games made the match much closer than it should have been. However the Swiss player should get plenty of chances to break serve with Simon not having the same pop on the serve as Kohlschreiber can produce and I think Wawrinka will prove too strong in this Third Round match.

He is a former winner here and Wawrinka may be thinking of once again winning this Masters event to show he is ready to defend the French Open title he won last season. I think Wawrinka will prove a little too good in both sets in this one and come through with a 64, 64 kind of win.


Roger Federer - 4.5 games v Roberto Bautista Agut: Roger Federer made his return to the Tour following knee surgery with a routine win over Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in the Second Round. He faces another Spaniard in the Third Round in Roberto Bautista Agut and Roger Federer has to be happy with the draw having won the last four matches between these two.

It is a comfortable match up for Federer who knows exactly what Bautista Agut is capable of producing- while the latter has played well in 2016, he is the kind of player that will give Federer the rhythm to build his confidence while the serve is not overpowering and will allow Federer to have his way on the return.

The key for Federer is seeing how the knee holds up after his first match since the Australian Open. If he is able to have come through that without any setbacks, Federer should have every chance of recording another fairly comfortable win over Bautista Agut having won all ten sets against this opponent in the past.

In the last three matches between these players, Bautista Agut has yet to break serve and only produced one break point. That should change on a slow clay court, but Federer should have control of this match and I think he will be too strong on the day as he produces another straight sets win over the Spaniard and covers this number.

MY PICKS: Andy Murray - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Milos Raonic - 4.5 Games @ 1.80 William Hill (2 Units)
Dominic Thiem + 3.5 Games @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Stan Wawrinka - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 William Hill (2 Units)
Roger Federer - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)

Monte Carlo Update: 4-7, - 6.42 Units (22 Units Staked, - 29.18% Yield)

1 comment:

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